By Eric Little – Seven Ranges Radio for WVMetroNews.com
It always seems that at this point of every season, we get a few matchups between teams that both badly need wins to boost would-be playoff runs. This year is no different, with a couple matchups that feature heavy playoff implications. Here are this week’s games. All game dates/times listed:
Parkersburg (4-2) at Cabell Midland (3-3) (Friday 7:00)
Parkersburg’s defense threw up a Big Red roadblock last week, nearly pitching a shutout in a 34-8 win over the Flying Eagles on homecoming. The Big Reds limited Woodrow to fewer than 150 total yards of offense and just six first downs.
Offensively, PHS got three touchdown passes from Kam Mace as part of a 350-yard passing effort. Most impressive? Mace connected with three different receivers on the touchdown strikes. The effort helped the Big Reds eclipse the 500-yard barrier for total offense.
This week, Parkersburg faces a Cabell Midland team that’s lost two of their last three, but has faced stiff competition. In two of their three losses, the Knights have scored more than 40 points and still lost. Those same two losses came by eight points or fewer.
After a 21-point home loss last week to Belfry, Kentucky, Cabell Midland needs to pile up wins in a hurry, especially since their schedule finishes with games against Spring Valley and Huntington. The way Parkersburg has played this season – especially the last three weeks – this week won’t be an easy week for the Knights to stockpile W’s.
The Big Reds have won under head coach Mike Byus by piling up the points. In three of their four wins, Parkersburg has topped 40 points. They’ve also picked up three of their four wins by 25 points or more. But two weeks ago against Wheeling Park, these Big Reds rallied from two different two-touchdown deficits to defeat the Patriots.
Learning to win the close games is one of the final steps a team can take toward greatness. PHS will need to once again do the things they did against Wheeling Park in order to get a win this week. Those include creating takeaways on defense and playing a full 48 minutes. If the Big Reds can do that and get the win, look for this team to do big things in November.
Williamstown (3-4) at Wirt County (3-3) (Friday 7:00)
Both of these teams would be mistaken to think this is anything but a must-win game. Williamstown needs to win out in order to have a winning season and to try to get into the playoffs at 6-4. Wirt County wraps its season against a 5-1 Sherman club and probably doesn’t want its hopes for a winning season come down to that Week 11 matchup with the Tide.
After a rare three-game losing streak, Williamstown has now won two of its last three. In those two wins, the defense has allowed just 14 total points. That includes a 41-0 shutout of Buffalo last week where the Bison barely topped 100 total yards of offense. That’s an improvement for a unit that allowed four touchdowns or more in each of their first four games this season.
Williamstown’s offense is also starting to come together. Last week against Buffalo, Donathan Taylor ran for a pair of scores and 56 yards on just five carries. Carter Haynes also completed nine of 12 passes, two for touchdowns
Meanwhile, a hot start has cooled for Wirt County this year. After winning three of their first four, back-to-back losses to Doddridge County and Ravenswood have somewhat stifled the Tigers’ roar.
Tigers’ quarterback Casey Stanley completed 13 passes against Ravenswood last week, but wound up with just 91 passing yards. That’s a sign that the majority of the Wirt County passing attack takes place fairly close to the line of scrimmage. If Williamstown can play their secondary near the line of scrimmage, they may be able to limit Wirt’s ability to throw the ball effectively.
Wirt County also struggled to run the ball consistently last week, averaging fewer than four yards per running play on 25 carries. The Tigers will need balance so that one attack can open opportunities for the other against a Yellowjacket defense that’s gaining confidence.
Williamstown will need to maintain the offensive balance they enjoyed last week in order the keep the good times rolling this week.
Magnolia (2-5) at St. Marys (5-0) (Friday 7:30)
Despite the records, this is a matchup between schools facing an above-average amount of adversity in recent weeks. St. Marys won 61-8 over Calhoun County last week, which doesn’t scream adversity. But the Blue Devils were without starting quarterback Eric Illar, forced into an emergency appendectomy last week, and running back Jaiden Smith, resting a nagging ankle injury from the Williamstown game two weeks ago.
Matt Eichorn stepped up for St. Marys to fill voids created by the absence of both. Half of Eichorn’s four completions went for touchdowns – both to Dylan Gray. Eichorn also ran for a touchdown, returned a punt for a score and took the opening kickoff 74 yards to the house to get the Blue Devils started on the right foot.
Magnolia has lost five straight and a once-promising season is quickly spiraling out of control. Two of the losses are by two points or fewer – a double-overtime loss to Shadyside, Ohio and a nail biter against Wheeling Central. Most recently, the Blue Eagles fell 54-9 to Crestview, Ohio on a night where Magnolia’s program may not have been entirely focused on football.
Early last week, the Wetzel County Chronicle reported that a number of football parents attended a meeting of the county’s Board of Education, demanding actions against an unnamed coach accused in a locker room shoving incident following the Wheeling Central loss. It’s not just a season on the brink. For Magnolia, it’s now a program on the brink.
The Blue Eagles can breathe new life into the 2017 campaign with a win against the Blue Devils. St. Marys will likely need to look to Eichorn at quarterback for at least one more week. If he’s got a healthy Jaiden Smith, that’ll be a huge shot in the arm.
Either way, both of these teams are facing a healthy dose of adversity. The team that rallies together and finds a way to get through it all should come out on top. This game can be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) and online at www.literock93r.com.
Doddridge County (5-2) at Ravenswood (4-2) (Friday 7:30)
Doddridge County has won five straight games, and in that time, find a team in the state that’s played better defense. The first four of their wins were shutouts. Last week, the Bulldogs held Gilmer County to a touchdown in a 38-6 win.
That Gilmer County touchdown was the first score of last week’s game, meaning the Bulldogs had to recover from the early disappointment of allowing their first points in a month. They responded by holding the Titans scoreless for the rest of the night.
Offensively, Doddridge was led by Hunter Lett’s four touchdown tosses, coming on only six completed passes. The Bulldogs did most of their damage on the ground, piling up more than 300 rushing yards.
Ravenswood has won three of their last four games. Most recently, the Red Devils knocked off Wirt County 38-14. Jake Greene ran for 130 yards and four touchdowns for Ravenswood, with the last two scores allowing the Red Devils to widen the gap in what had been just a ten point lead in the second half.
Ravenswood might have the most offensive weapons the Doddridge defense has faced during their five-game winning streak. But the Red Devils shouldn’t underestimate a defense playing with the kind of confidence we’re currently seeing out of Doddridge County.
Ripley (2-5) at Spring Valley (4-2) (Friday 7:30)
In a defensive struggled between two teams that badly needed to win to bolster their playoff hopes, South Charleston grinded out a 7-0 win at Ripley last week. Both teams struggled to top 200 total yards of offense. The Black Eagles got 52 of their 215 total yards on the game’s lone touchdown – a 52-yard strike from Trae Murphy to Nate Barham.
Now, Ripley needs to dig deep to recover from their fifth straight loss. A trip to Spring Valley likely won’t provide that elixir. The only thing that separates Ripley from turning their record upside down is their three closest losses – setbacks that came by a combined 15 points. If the Vikings DO pull the upset, the chance to go 5-5 is very real. If Ripley’s got anything left in the tank this season or any tricks left up their sleeves, this is the week to show what they’ve got.
Tolsia (2-5) at Tyler Consolidated (3-3) (Friday 7:00)
Tyler Consolidated came off a bye week to get their second straight win. The 54-6 victory over Ritchie County brought the Silver Knights back to .500. Now, the Knights will play at home each of the next two weeks, starting with this week’s matchup against Tolsia.
Tolsia ended a four-game losing streak with a 48-36 win over Mount View. Defense has been an issue for the Rebels all year. They’ve allowed four touchdowns or more in all but one of their seven games this season.
Last week, Tyler Consolidated got five touchdowns from Mark Rucker – four as part of a 160-yard rushing effort and the fifth on a kick return. The Silver Knights approached 350 total yards of offense last week, bad news for a struggling Tolsia defense.
If the Silver Knights can find success through their running game, they might find themselves in possession of a three-game winning streak by this time next week. This game can be heard locally on WXCR-FM (92.3 FM) and online at www.wxcr.com.
Webster County (5-1) at Ritchie County (2-5) (Friday 7:00)
Ritchie County has had more questions than answers on offense in the last three weeks – all losses. The Rebels have been held to just 12 points since their 40-0 win over Calhoun County on September 15th. And now the Rebels welcome Webster County to town – the third time Ritchie County has faced a team that currently holds five wins.
Webster bounced back from a tough loss against Summers County to earn a 35-14 win last week over Meadow Bridge. For Ritchie County, the strength of their schedule and the number of tough teams they’ve already faced may be too much to overcome. The Rebels will need their A+ effort – and some solutions offensively – to pull the upset this week.
Paden City (1-5) at Hannan (2-4) (Friday 6:30)
Gilmer County (0-6) at Calhoun County (0-7) (Friday 7:00)
Parkersburg Catholic (0-5) at Notre Dame (1-6) (Friday 7:30)
Lincoln (4-2) at Roane County (0-6) (Friday 7:30)
Wahama (2-5) at South Gallia, Ohio (2-5) (Friday 7:30)
Parkersburg South (2-5)